“UK pension scheme assets benefited from positive equity and credit returns this month, though this was partly offset by an increase in liabilities as inflation expectations rose,” he said.“Though March was generally positive for markets as central bank action, positive economic data and rising oil prices bolstered investor sentiment, clouds remain on the horizon – most noticeably the prospect of market volatility in the event of a ‘Brexit’, which extended sterling’s weakening against the euro in March.”At the end of March, the PPF 7800 universe covered schemes with liabilities of £1.59trn, slightly down by £5.5bn compared with February.In other news, a working group founded by leading employer covenant advisers has published a list of principles to guide stakeholders during the valuation of defined benefit funds.The Employer Covenant Working Group (ECWG) said the publication of its principles was necessitated as The Pensions Regulator (TPR) “consistently raised the bar” on what was expected of trustees and employers, while individual advisers had developed their own approach to valuing covenant strength.“With this in mind,” a statement said, “the ECWG has been formed to address the need for greater consistency, recognised leading practice and improved standards in covenant advisory work.”Gary Squires, chair of the ECWG, noted that employers would not want to risk schemes becoming reliant on the PPF.“Given the scale of the challenge, it’s clear there is a need for a consistent approach to addressing funding deficits, and the members of the ECWG’s work assisting trustees, scheme sponsors and regulators in considering an employer’s ability to pay contributions into the future is vitally important to help secure the retirement of millions of people.”The principles detail a sponsor’s legal obligation, how to best value a scheme’s position and how to assess a sponsor’s ability to support a fund, among other areas.Finally, Willis Towers Watson has developed a new longevity model to improve the accuracy of assumptions by drawing on medical data, better predicting how many pension fund members will go on to develop diabetes, for example.PulseModel was designed as the consultancy was concerned mortality models failed to incorporate medical information, Matthew Edwards, head of mortality at Willis Towers Watson, said.James Brown, lecturer in ageing metabolism at the Aston Research centre for Healthy Ageing in Birmingham, said the emergence of type 2 diabetes was “one of the gravest health issues” for the coming century.“This model represents a potential step-change in our ability to accurately predict outcomes based upon the likely future trends in diabetes incidence,” he said.“More importantly, it provides quantifiable predictions of the potentially dramatic implications diabetes might have on mortality and life expectancy.” Funding among the UK’s defined benefit (DB) funds rose towards the end of the financial year, as the aggregate deficit reported by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) fell to £302bn (€384bn).Overall funding levels stood at 81% at the end of last month, according to the PPF 7800 Index, while the deficit across the 5,945 schemes captured fell by £20bn compared with February.However, despite the improved ratio, funding remained down compared with March 2015, when it stood at 84.2%, accounting for a deficit of £244bn.Andy Tunningley, head of strategic clients at BlackRock in the UK, noted that March had been a “positive month” for the sector.
The 23-year-old is the first player to join the Irons since the announcement of Slaven Bilic as the east London club’s new manager on Tuesday. Obiang made 35 appearances for Sampdoria last season, scoring three goals as the Blucerchiati finished seventh in Serie A to qualify for the Europa League. Obiang is confident he can make a swift transition to the hustle and bustle of top-flight English football. “We have been talking about this for a long time and now I have finally got the chance to come here,” he said on the club’s official website, www.whufc.com. “I am very excited to play in the Premier League. “It is a style of football that will help me to progress as a player and as a person, so it will be very good.” While it is likely much of the work to bring Obiang to Upton Park was done before Bilic’s confirmed arrival, the player has every confidence the new manager can mould a team capable of holding its own. “I think Bilic is a manager that can do very well here,” said Obiang, who was at Atletico Madrid as a youngster before heading to Sampdoria aged 16. “I know that he was a West Ham player and he did a very well with the Croatian national team. “He is a manager that likes to play good football and I really like that, so I am sure that we will get along very well.” West Ham have confirmed the signing of Spain Under-21 midfielder Pedro Obiang from Sampdoria for an undisclosed fee. West Ham signed goalkeeper Darren Randolph from Birmingham earlier in the summer, with veteran Jussi Jaaskelainen among those named on the Premier League released list along with striker Carlton Cole and defender Guy Demel, who all follow former manager Sam Allarydce out of the Boleyn Ground. According to the press release announcing Obiang’s arrival, West Ham “are still hopeful they will be able to make several more signings before the new season gets under way”. Bilic has set his targets high for the club, who are set to move into the Olympic Stadium from the 2016/17 campaign. “The ambition is to try to be top 10, definitely and then improve on that,” he said. “Then, in the space of a few seasons, with the stadium and everything, with hype, with probably a little bit more budget, with good planning and good play, nobody can stop us dreaming of European places or if we have a brilliant season to try to break into the Champions League places. “To win a trophy, to win a cup. You have to believe in that to achieve it. “If you don’t believe in that then you’re definitely not going to do that. “It doesn’t have to be an obsession in a negative way. If you don’t believe it, who will believe it? “Where it’s going to take us I don’t know, but logically if you play well and you improve your squad, if your players are playing more compact and more fluid with the ball, it should get you up the league.” Bilic will have less time than usual to bed his new squad in, with West Ham set to kick off the first qualifying round of the Europa League on July 2, having won a place via the Fair Play table. The Irons also have pre-season fixtures scheduled against Peterborough, Southend, Colchester, and Charlton before taking on newly-promoted Norwich at Carrow Road on July 28. Press Association
USC looks to ride the momentum from Tuesday night’s come-from-behind victory against UC Santa Barbara into its Pac-10 series with Oregon this weekend in Eugene, Ore.Struggling · Sophomore starter Ben Mount (3-3, 3.77 ERA) has not recorded a victory since his April 2 start against Oregon State. – Avi Kushlan | Daily Trojan The Trojans will be trying to notch their first conference series win of the season against the No. 18 Ducks (25-12, 6-6).Trailing 8-0 late in Tuesday’s matchup at Dedeaux Field, USC (16-20, 2-10) scored two times in the seventh, twice in the eighth and four more times in the bottom of the ninth to steal a victory against UCSB. Senior outfielder Mike O’Neill scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch to seal the deal for USC, which had lost six contests in a row.Oregon is also riding high after taking two of three last weekend against then-No. 1 UCLA. The Ducks won the first two games of the series before dropping last Sunday’s finale, 5-1. Oregon also defeated Gonzaga twice this week in non-conference action and has won seven of its last 10 games.USC coach Chad Kreuter will send out sophomore starter Andrew Triggs tonight at 7 p.m. in the series opener. The right-hander (1-6, 4.14 ERA) has not earned a win since his first start of the season. In his last outing against Arizona State, Triggs went five innings, allowing five runs (two earned) on four hits. He struck out five.Triggs’ counterpart will be Oregon sophomore Tyler Anderson. The Ducks’ left-hander is 5-3 with a 2.63 ERA this season. He’s racked up 55 strikeouts in 54 and two-third innings pitched. In his last start against UCLA, Anderson allowed four runs on five hits in four and two-third innings in the Ducks’ 5-4 victory against UCLA.Trojans’ sophomore Ben Mount will take the ball in Saturday’s 5 p.m. matchup. In 10 games this season (eight starts), Mount is 3-3 with a 3.77 ERA and 40 strikeouts. Opposing Mount will be Oregon’s Justin LaTempa. The right-hander is 3-2 with a 3.35 ERA and 34 strikeouts.Sunday’s 12 p.m. series finale will square Oregon’s Alex Kuedell (4-4, 3-20) against USC. Kreuter has yet to decide a starter for the game, but his decision will mostly likely come down to senior Kevin Couture (2-1, 6.75) or sophomore Chad Smith (4-5, 4.46).The Ducks are batting .276 on the season with a staff ERA of 2.92, while the Trojans’ hitters have tallied a .285 batting average and their pitching has compiled a 4.79 ERA.Catcher Eddie Rodriguez has been the Ducks’ leader on offense so far this season. He tops the team with a .331 batting average, .424 slugging percentage and .398 on-base percentage. He has hit two home runs to go along with 24 RBI.USC leads the all-time series against Oregon, 19-2, and it swept the Ducks last season at Dedeaux Field. Tonight’s game will mark the first time USC baseball has played in Eugene since 1969.